Riding the wave: Science fiction media fandom and informal science education

  • Moira O'Keeffe Bellarmine University


Popular entertainment media about scientists can inspire interest in real-world science. Science communicators have tapped into this resource by developing books, television shows, and traveling exhibits that tie informal science education to works of fiction. These tools are often framed as the "real science of" a fictional universe. Scientists and science writers involved with these projects argue that science fiction, in particular, creates a sense of wonder that can fuel the desire to learn more, or even to pursue a science career. Science fiction does not have to present realistic science in order to be used for informal science education, but the separation between real-world and fantastic science should be made clear. This paper examines three examples about the "real science of" the program Doctor Who, considering in each case how credibility regarding both the science and fiction content is established, and how aspects of the fictional world are incorporated into the educational content.

Author Biography

Moira O'Keeffe, Bellarmine University
Moira O'Keeffe is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Bellarmine University. Her research interests include visual communication and portrayals of science in entertainment media.